CBOE Holdings (NASDAQ:CBOE) operates some of the largest options and futures exchanges in the world, including its namesake Chicago Board Options Exchange.
The company has grown tremendously over the past several years as the popularity of options and futures as investment vehicles has soared. Since 2009, the company has grown at an average annual rate of 9.2%, and operating margins have expanded from 38.7% to 50.8%. What is driving the growth, and how does the company plan to continue its excellent growth going forward?
CBOE's Proprietary products are becoming very popular
One of the most certain ways to succeed in any business is to be the only one to offer products that everyone wants, and CBOE does a great job of this, particularly with its SPX (S&P 500) and VIX (volatility) products.
In 2013 alone, the average daily volume of the company's SPX options grew by 18% driven mostly by explosive growth in the weekly contracts, whose volume nearly doubled last year and are up another 46% so far in 2014.
CBOE plans to continue this growth by targeting its marketing efforts at institutional and overseas investors, as well as by stepping up its efforts to educate the trading public. The company also just started to offer nearly 24-hour trading five days per week, and the impact of this will be clearer when the company reports second quarter earnings.
The company's VIX volatility options and futures have soared in popularity in recent years. Trading volume for VIX options grew by 28% in 2013 and 19% so far this year, and futures volume has seen even more impressive gains. Check out the graph to see the remarkable growth in trading volume for CBOE's proprietary products over the past few years.
Educated investors mean higher trading volumes
In general; people who don't understand options and futures don't trade them. Makes sense, right?
That's why CBOE is allocating a large portion of its resources to education programs. The company offers online courses for beginners, as well as intermediate and advanced traders through its Options Institute. There are also webcasts, tutorials, and games to help educate prospective traders.
The courses and programs are designed to help investors understand options and build up enough confidence to use them in their trading strategies. And to make sure plenty of people take advantage of the courses, CBOE offers them free of charge.
This is a brilliant strategy by CBOE. Even though the company technically "loses" money by developing the courses and not charging, they'll more than make up for it through increased trading volumes, which means more revenue. The dynamic growth in trading volumes so far is proof that the desire for CBOE's products is there...people just need to be shown how to use them.
Volatility is the future
Since CBOE's proprietary products are rapidly gaining popularity; the company is in the process of developing new products, especially connected to interest rates.
Interest rate movements have been a very closely followed subject recently, so CBOE is looking to capitalize on the trend. Later this year, the company plans to introduce interest rate volatility futures on the CBOE 10-year U.S. Treasury Note volatility index.
The company sees interest rate volatility as an exciting and new market, and if the results from the company's other volatility-based products are any indication, there could be massive potential.
CBOE is also looking to expand its success with its SPX weekly options to the volatility world by recently launching futures and options on the short-term volatility index, or VXST. Whereas the VIX options and futures are monthly, the short-term contracts are based on weekly volatility. It'll be very interesting to see how quickly these catch on once the company reports its 2nd quarter earnings in August.
Growth, education, and innovation are a winning formula
Not only is CBOE having excellent success in growing the awareness and use of its current products, but the company is trying to replicate their success with a new proprietary product line.
If CBOE is successful in educating the masses about its new products and experiences similar success as it has already had, the growth of the past few years could be just the beginning.
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Matthew Frankel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends CBOE Holdings. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.